PRINCETON, N.J. – Rallying around a pair of repeat wins from sophomore Trisha-Ann Hawthorne – who won her second Most Outstanding Performer of the Meet Award in two appearances at the ECAC Championships – the UConn women’s track and field team claimed the top spot among eastern seaboard schools for the second straight year.
“This is just another highlight of a several-year run of championships. I’m just really proud of this team winning the ECAC back-to-back,” said Head Coach Bill Morgan on Sunday, as his squad gathered on the Princeton University track to accept the first-place trophy at the 2009 ECAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“We continue to try to keep building on that success,” he said.
Refused to lose
A key building block right now is the continued development of Hawthorne, the Huskies’ sophomore speedster, who finished ahead of the pack in both the 100m and 200m Sunday, much as she did a year ago when the women won their first-ever ECAC outdoor title.
Hawthorne credits her success on the track to her “refuse to lose” philosophy, a philosophy that is predicated on her belief that these first-place medals are, in effect, her prized personal property.
“I hate other people taking my medals. I hate second place,” said the sprinter from Elmsford, N.Y.
Hawthorne attributes her position as the leader of the pack to her “passion for track” and her dedication to continue to improve.
“I just try to do my best at every meet and I came through today and helped my team win,” she said.
Morgan said Hawthorne’s second win of the day (the 200m dash), which came with only two events remaining, gave him confidence the team would retain the ECAC crown for another year.
“After Trisha’s win in the 200, I knew we were in good shape if we took care of business in the relays, especially the way things were playing out in the high jump,” said Morgan, praising junior Carin Knight, who nailed a personal best as she won the ECAC high jump title.
Senior Rachael Porter tied for fourth in that event.
In addition to her two individual victories, Hawthorne also helped UConn take first place in the 4×100 relay, along with seniors Jessica Foreman and Monique Hodges and junior Phylicia George.
A tough team to match
The Huskies didn’t fare too well in the other two relays, finishing fifth in the 4×400 and sixth in the 4×800, but those were the final two events of the meet and by that time, second-place Virginia had no chance to overtake the UConn women.
“I felt confident going into Sunday’s competition,” said Morgan. “I knew if anyone were to beat us they’d have to have an extraordinary performance.”
But no other school was able to match the overall excellence demonstrated by UConn’s talented women, including second-place finishes by senior Amanda Martin in the javelin throw and freshman Victoria Flowers in the hammer toss.
Two juniors also did well: Phylicia George took third place in the 100 meter hurdles and Mandel Graves-Fulgham came in fourth in the 400m dash.
All of these performances helped the Huskies lap other teams in the standings as they battled to retain the 2008 crown.
Climbing back to victory
Watching UConn advance up the rungs of the standings as Sunday’s events unfolded was almost as fascinating as watching the Huskies compete on the track.
The women were in 14th place at the end of competition on Saturday and by the end of event #10 on Sunday they had crept up into seventh place, 18 points behind meet-leading Virginia.
By the time the 13th event was over, UConn was solidly in second place, only 10 points out.
And when Hawthorne won the 100m dash, the Huskies took over first place and never looked back.
Connecticut concluded competition with 88 points, easily outdistancing the 58 compiled by the University of Virginia.
West Virginia placed third with 47.25, Duke came in fourth with 41.25 and the University of Albany placed fifth with 39 points.
The Albany men did even better, winning the school’s first-ever IC4A championship. UConn men finished 13th at the Princeton meet.
Members of both UConn teams will be competing at the NCAA East Regionals May 29-30 at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.
“We should have a competitive group going down there,” Morgan said.
Posted May 18, 2009